Karnataka Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar said on Sunday that he was misquoted the previous day on the Nithyananda ashram controversy.
A cross-section of the media quoted him as saying that the government would appoint an administrator to take over the functioning of ‘Dhyanapeetham', Nithyananda's Bidadi ashram.
“I never said anything about appointing a government administrator,” he told mediapersons at Hubli on Sunday. He said, “While speaking to mediapersons at Dharwad [on Saturday] I had only said that the State government is observing the developments at the Nityananda ashram and the Chief Minister would take suitable decision after consulting experts”, he said while adding that the government “will not protect anybody.”
The situation has been tense at the ashram since Friday when pro-Kannada outfits and Mr. Nithyananda's disciples clashed at the ashram over the allegations levelled by an unidentified woman who told a regional television channel in a detailed deposition that she had been sexually abused by Nithyananda.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda told The Hindu in Puttur (Dakshina Kannada district) on Sunday that a meeting to discuss the Nithyananda issue would be convened in Bangalore on Monday. Mr. Suresh Kumar and Home Minister R. Ashok are expected to form the core of this high-level meeting, said senior government sources.
Forest Minister C.P. Yogeshwar, who is also the district in-charge minister of Ramnagaram where the Bidadi ashram is located, continued to be ambivalent on the issue. He defended the godman on Saturday morning only to change tack later in the day.
On Sunday, he told reporters that he would convene a review meeting on the issue with the Superintendent of Police and Deputy Commissioner of the district.
Prohibitory orders continued to be in place in the vicinity of the Ashram on Sunday even as an umbrella coalition of activist organisations held a protest outside. They burnt effigies of Nithyananda and tore down promotional billboards of the Ashram that dot the Bangalore-Mysore Highway. The protest, which lasted nearly five hours, also resulted in a massive traffic jam on the highway.
Accusing senior government functionaries of speaking in different voices and not taking the issue seriously, the agitators demanded the arrest of Nithyananda and seize the assets of his Bidadi ashram. They also demanded the release of Kannada activists arrested in connection with the Friday violence.
After he reached Bangalore late on Sunday evening, Mr. Suresh Kumar refuted allegations that there was a difference of opinion in the government over the present controversy. “We are just waiting for the facts to emerge and that will happen in tomorrow's meeting,” he said.